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Whittier residents say ‘no’ to city’s plan to remove nearly 100 ficus trees in historic district

WHITTIER, Calif. (KABC) — For many Whittier residents, the small-town charm of uptown lies not only in the high-end shops along Greenleaf Avenue, but also in the trees that line the avenue for blocks.

However, the city recently approved the first phase of a project that would turn part of the area into what would be known as the Greenleaf Promenade, a multimillion-dollar makeover that will provide ample space for outdoor dining and more.

However, some residents say they are against the project if it means cutting down dozens of trees.

“Outdoor dining… that’s cool, but they should be able to adjust it. Save the trees,” said resident Jeff Lough.

Maria Rodriguez said she hopes that doesn’t happen.

“The trees are just beautiful. There’s a lot of shade and a lot of people like to walk around town in this main area,” she said.

Some residents even do everything they can to put an end to the moving plan. Javier and Veronica Garcia said they spent nearly $20,000 on flyers and an ad campaign to help save the trees.

“God reached into my heart and asked me to fight for his trees,” Javier said.

“These trees mean a lot to our elders, to our families who are raising children here,” Veronica added.

Whittier Mayor Pro Tem Cathy Warner said the city is exploring how to best move forward, taking residents’ concerns into account.

“What we have approved at this point is the felling. I think it is just under 100 of the ficus trees that are over an area of ​​three blocks and then we would replace those, one by one, or just over one for one,” she said.

Warner said the city is also working closely with arborists regarding uprooting the trees.

“For the project to move forward, the trees would have to come down,” she said. “That’s why we’re so focused on what we would replace them with, what size we would replace them with, along with all the other landscaping. Plus, the roots of the trees are causing problems with the business owners and their sewer systems and their pipes.”

What’s next?

City staff will host a follow-up study session on Tuesday, June 18, beginning with a private session at 6 p.m., followed by a public session at 6:30 p.m. in the council chambers of Whittier City Hall. Click here for more information.

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